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Student Shopping in Department Stores

Department stores may seem like an outdated shopping concept of the high street that has struggled to keep up with the modern day shopper, but in truth, they transformed the way people shopped and in some cases, have become national treasures and tourist haunts – ever been to Harrod’s of Knightsbridge? And most of them offer student discounts online and in-store, so long as you show a valid student id; UK students get discounts, exclusive discounts and student deals at most major stores on full priced items.

Departments stores are large shops, usually spread out over several floors, that sell a variety of goods; each in a separate section (or, duh, ‘department’!) of the store based on retail category. The idea, although perhaps not always a reality dependent on individual consumer behaviour, is that a shopper is able to purchase everything they’re looking for all under one roof, without having to stray to a competitor’s outlet.

The History of Department Stores

When you’re asked to think of department stores, it’s likely Debenhams or House of Fraser that springs to mind. However, when originally conceived, department stores were seen as bourgeoisie and high-end, with only the richer in society being able to shop there (think Harrod’s, again!).

The first ever department store opened in 1852 in Paris, named Bon Marche – and it’s lavish decoration and unrivalled range of products soon sprung up competitors. Printemps opened in 1865 and the Samaritaine in 1869, firmly securing fashionable and premium-quality department stores as a staple of the Parisian shopping experience. Over in America, where everything already operated on a larger-than-life capacity, existing shops simply re-organised to follow the department store model, and these too quickly gained in popularity amongst shoppers.

Within years, countries all over the world followed the French example and opened major department stores in their capital and large cities.

By the early 20th century, department stores had become cultural institutions and you’d often find them mentioned in city’s tourist guides (as you would today). In London, Harrod’s, Selfridge’s and Liberty’s all raged in popularity and were visited as much for everyday purchases as they were tourist souvenirs.

Student Discounts Department Stores

Department Stores Today

In the 1950s, as world economies began to stabilise following World War II, American-style shopping malls began to open across large cities worldwide, still offering consumers the opportunity to shop for many different items and many different brands under one roof, but through purchases in multiple stores. This impacted heavily on department stores, who saw a decline in patronage through until the 1980s. Recognising the detrimental impact that changing consumer habits could have on their stores, department store changes decided to ‘go with the flow’ and opened locations within shopping centres – often as large flagship stores with additional branding and marketing completed on behalf of the mall itself.

The other major consumer behaviour change was, of course, online shopping. This saw existing department stores such as Fenwick’s, Debenhams and House of Fraser launch online stores for e-commerce, as well as existing online retailers expanding their marketplaces to offer goods from a range of sellers and brands, such as Amazon and eBay – effectively turning their websites into online department stores, too.

How is Department Store Shopping Beneficial for Students?

We know that almost all high street retailers offer a student discount of some kind; both online and off, but here at Student Discount Squirrel, we believe that department stores can be even more beneficial to student shoppers than regular high street stores. How? Time to use some of the tricks (and quirks) of the trade. Let us explain about these student discounts where usually you get 10% off when you show your student id.

Department Stores Offer More Variety

Because department stores offer a variety of brands, shoppers are able to compare and contrast products and ‘shop around’ without ever leaving the premises. This allows you to better identify good value and to differentiate product variables easily. How often do you think you want one product and then decide another is better after all? All the time! Being able to do so easily in one place before making a purchase (and inevitably then having to faff about with returns… or worse, keeping things you don’t need and probably won’t ever use!) allows you to make better and smarter purchase decisions.

Department Store Student Discount Levels Can Vary

Department stores tend to host lots of concessions to diversify their brand profile. Whilst each of these brands may offer their own student discount, often the department store has their own too. Double check what this is – because in some cases, it may be more buying through the store! For example, there is no Argos student discount as standard, but most of the brands they sell will give you money off if you shop direct. Vice versa, House of Fraser has a 10% across-the-board student discount, but DKNY have none, so shopping through the department store will afford you a discount you wouldn’t usually get. Just take advantage of this money saving extra and validate your student status with a company like Student Beans and you can get discounts.

Department Stores Often Host Sales Events That High Street Stores Don’t

Whilst high street retailers tend to limit their sales events to certain times of the year to reduce the full price, department stores often host flash sales across bank holiday weekends or around occasions others wouldn’t (i.e. Valentine’s Day). These don’t just include percentage-off offers, but also loyalty rewards and stacked discount codes. Compare these offers to what brands themselves are offering and see if you can find a bargain!

Department store sales are often promoted in advance to store card holders, but don’t bother signing up – instead keep an eye on social media groups and pages for notice without the price tag and credit rating hit attached. And if you show your NUS Extra card you can get 5% or even get 20% off and save money.

Department Stores Often Offer Freebies

Of course, we all know that department store perfume counters are quick to offer up a free spritz of a new scent, but in a more competitive environment with retailers working hard for your custom in limited floor space, brands tend to give away free gifts and samples in ways they wouldn’t when you’re already in their store and looking for their product specifically. Sometimes there’s even no purchase necessary, which can really sweeten the deal! Check for such deals on department stores’ social media accounts and in-store promotions.

And remember you needn’t spend full price to save money. Just show a student discount card or get the code online including NUS Extra card which is now NUS Totum or get a free Unidays app. We sometimes use cookies to help write these money saving tips.